SEOUL – South Korea on Friday ordered its military to shoot wild boars that cross the inter-Korean border as the government announced a slew of measures to curb the spread of the African swine fever infection in the country that has already culled 100,000 pigs.
The South Korean army deployed patrols and guards at the border to shoot any wild boar spotted within the southern strip of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – an area that divides South and North Korea.
This comes a day after it was confirmed that a wild boar found dead in the area had contracted the deadly animal disease.
The Ministry of Agriculture confirmed 13 ASF cases have been detected so far and another possible contagion was being investigated after the discovery of the first case three weeks ago.
The department announced that they were undertaking disinfection efforts, which have been hampered by the recent passage of two typhoons.
It will further extend the order for two more days to stop all activities and movement of pigs in farms and slaughterhouses in the entire northern stretch of the country – the area where the first case was detected on Sept. 17 and a dozen more infections have been reported since.
Given that the disease – which does not affect humans – does not have a cure nor a vaccine, South Korea is implementing the usual ASF protocol, which involves slaughtering all pigs in a three-kilometer radius of infected farms.
This has already led to the culling of around 100,000 pigs and the number is expected to reach 150,000 – more than one percent of the entire pig population in the country – within a few days.
The South Korean authorities were yet to determine the origin of the infection but the outbreak is believed to have spread from North Korea even though it is very difficult for a wild boar to trespass the DMZ.
North Korea detected its first ASF case near its border with China four months ago.
The current outbreak affecting East Asia seemingly started in China, where the first case was detected in August 2018 in the Liaoning province, in the northeastern part of the country.
Since then, the ASF has spread throughout China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Mongolia.The disease has endangered the supply of meat in a region that is highly dependent on pork and expanded export possibilities for other high production countries like Spain.
The disease may also negatively affect the prices of soybean, commonly used as pig food, and the countries that produce it.